Tancredoing is Hard Work

As we noted last month, Tom Tancredo may have no chance of being elected president, but his campaign is succeeding at one thing: making other Republican candidates compete for who’s taking the hardest line against immigration. Indeed, last week’s GOP debate found the frontrunners trying to “out-Tancredo” each other. Still, Tancredo is trucking on, pushing the limits of what “Tancredoing” is. At a New Hampshire event—in which he offered the line, “They’re not all coming here to do jobs Americans won’t do, unless you can’t find an American to blow up an American city”—Tancredo “mused” about his success (from the American Spectator):

… Tancredo offered another measure of his success. He mused about the early days of his crusade, the hundreds of hours spent on talk radio shows. “I used to ask myself, ‘Does anyone care? Is anybody listening?'” He doesn’t wonder anymore. The Hillary driver’s license flap and his Republican opponents’ surprisingly brutal dogfights on sanctuary cities and lawn workers are proof enough. When Tancredo repeated his debate one-liner about the other Republican candidates trying to “out-Tancredo Tancredo,” everyone laughed appreciatively, then sighed. Predictably, Tancredo has his doubts as to whether anyone can actually out-Tancredo him. “I love the rhetoric,” he said. “But how can we really know who believes in their heart and who is just watching polls?”

While Tancredo has never shied from advocating mass deportation of undocumented immigrants—“why not?” he asked at this Heritage event—his past proposals have been for “mass attrition,” the idea that immigrants will clear out on their own once the government gets aggressive enough in cracking down on them. But now that other candidates are pushing “attrition,” Tancredo is complaining it’s not enough:

Yesterday, he released a stark television ad here that shows photos of bloody bodies, including those of children, lying in a street, victims of gang violence. The ad warns that the violent criminals behind those kinds of attacks are sneaking into the U.S., and calls for deportation of illegal aliens — something most other candidates have shied away from, calling for attrition through better enforcement instead.

And he’s managed to distinguish himself in another way: He’s boycotting the GOP debate scheduled for this Sunday on Spanish-language network Univision. The debate is actually Republicans’ second chance, since most of the candidates snubbed them back in September, but this time everyone is coming except Tancredo. According to Tancredo, it’s about the rule of law:

“What all my colleagues — what the other candidates are doing — it’s encouraging violation of the law because it’s saying, ‘Don’t worry about the fact that you have to know English to earn citizenship,’ ” said Mr. Tancredo, the only Republican to turn down the invitation from Univision for Sunday night’s debate and who said the other candidates’ participation was worse than pandering.

For the Colorado congressman, it’s a matter of principle: He said the other candidates are contributing to the Balkanization of the country by joining the debate, in which the candidates will speak English, but their answers will be translated into Spanish for broadcast on the nation’s largest Spanish-language network. …

Mr. Tancredo said he expects his voice is being heard this way. “My not being there is probably the strongest statement I can make on this issue,” he said.

But Tancredo may be finding it hard to “out-Tancredo” himself. While his last ad equated immigrants with terrorists (and included a dramatization of a terrorist attack), his new one only equates them with violent gangsters.